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CIC paves way for disclosure of graft plaints against ministers

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has paved the way for disclosure of corruption complaints against Union ministers by terming objections of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as "not correct" in

response to an RTI application filed by bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

Chaturvedi, a 2002-batch officer of the Indian Forest Service, had in August 2017 filed an RTI application with the PMO seeking details of corruption complaints against Union ministers received from June 2014 till the date of filling of the application.

The PMO, in its response in October 2017, had said that this information was "generic and vague" and cited an earlier order of the CIC to deny this information.

Against this, Chaturvedi had approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which had in its order passed on October 16, last year, observed that "respondent (PMO) has not given correct and specific reply/information to the applicant".

The Commission had directed the Central Public Information Officer of the PMO to provide information on this within 15 days.

In response to this CIC order, the PMO had responded to the applicant but cited Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act to deny the information. The PMO said it receives a variety of complaints on different matters against Union ministers and high-level functionaries of the government of India and they may be scattered across different sections and units of the office and hence disclosure would disproportionately divert the resources.

The Section says "information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question".

Chaturvedi then filed a complaint with the CIC under section 18 of the RTI Act, for compliance with its October 16 order.

In his submission to the Commission, he had said the PMO cannot deny the information under Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act.

The information can only be denied under Section 8(1) of the Act, Chaturvedi had said.

This complaint was then heard on April 23 and June 17.

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